Important questions remain with $15/hour minimum wage announcement

Published February 8, 2018

Restaurants Canada supports reasonable minimum wage increases to ensure employees can keep up with the cost of living.
Although Restaurants Canada recommended a longer ramp up period to give businesses time to adjust, we respect that today’s announcement reflects the election platform of the provincial government.

“While today’s announcement provides long-term general minimum wage predictability for restaurateurs, these annual increases are significantly higher than inflation, and Restaurants Canada members are concerned that the important question of maintaining a liquor server wage and introducing a youth wage similar to Ontario’s remain unanswered”, said Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada’s Vice President for Western Canada.

“Liquor servers have the highest earnings of all hourly employees in a licensed restaurant or bar when you factor in their gratuities,” added von Schellwitz. “Maintaining the liquor server wage is important to our licensed members, as it allows licensed restaurateurs to provide higher wages to attract and retain skilled non-gratuity earning kitchen staff. Introducing a youth wage will ensure that first-time entrants are not locked out of the workforce.”

Today’s announcement of annual hourly general minimum wage increases from the current $11.35 to $12.65 in 2018, to $13.85 in 2019, $14.60 in 2020 and $15.20 in 2021, effective each June for the next four years, is a reasonable approach. However, maintaining the liquor server wage and introducing a youth wage will help minimize the impact of these large minimum wage increases.
Restaurants Canada doesn’t want to see a repeat of the significant industry job losses in Alberta, where an arbitrary push for a $15/hour minimum wage and the elimination of the liquor server wage was too much too fast and came at the exactly the wrong time during Alberta’s economic downturn.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Fair Wages Commission to maintain the liquor server wage and introduce a youth wage that have worked well in other jurisdictions.

Restaurants Canada is a growing community of 30,000 foodservice businesses, including restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and suppliers. We connect our members from coast to coast, through services, research and advocacy for a strong and vibrant restaurant industry. British Columbia’s restaurant industry directly employs 174,000 British Columbians and has total annual sales of $13 billion.

Marlee Wasser

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